LCD Soundsystem achieves the ‘American Dream’

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, September 6th, 2017 at 5:10 PM
LCD Soundsystem achieves the ‘American Dream’ by Britton Rozzelle

After six years, James Murphy and his ever-changing band of punks and dance-floor rebels are back in what is the most consistently strong LCD record to date. 

It seems fitting that LCD Soundsystem’s darkest, most personal album is the one that has the brightest album art, a point of contention among fans immediately after its reveal. Sure, I get the argument, it’s just plain black text and a brilliant blue sky. Little did they know at the time, this beautiful blue sky is the representation of anxiety, forgotten dreams, and the dearly departed (among other themes) contained on the album. It’s the true “American Dream.” 

“Oh baby” is a solid opener, taking us into a dream of true love and obsession, one we even begin to believe ourselves by the time the electric and vibrant “other voices” comes around. 

“I used to” is a virtuous and melodic affair, both somber and sobering with sinister guitar work that follows Murphy as his line, “I’m still trying to wake up” fades out from a desperate cry to a placated whisper. It captures, if nothing else, the darkness that looms in and around this record. These darker themes are addressed in “change yr mind,” an anxious and rhythmic work of isolation and mistakes, long past, still remembered. 

“How do you sleep?” continues this trend, becoming an almost 10-minute-long epic, thematically similar to the titular single, as well as past work like “Never As Tired As When I’m Waking Up,” the latter about the bitter sadness that encroaches when one is lost. It comes across as a foil to “Dance Yrself Clean,” taking the hope and optimism that shines through the cynical writing and replacing it with something twisted, dark and captivating.

“I still remember the laughing and the fighting,” Murphy urges, eventually turning into a resigned and cold, “I must admit: I miss the laughing / but not so much you,” as a reserved orchestra moves us to a crushing wall of synth in the second act. 

“Tonite,” the sole song that could be read as positive on this album, follows in an effort to call back to the disco-infused roots of Murphy and company. “Call the Police” and “American Dream” follow suit, being a standout duo on the album that working just as well as single releases and as pieces of this glorious full-length record, the latter having since become one of my favorite songs by the band. 

Wrapping up with “black screen,” a heartfelt tribute to the mentor-like relationship the late David Bowie had with James Murphy that transforms — much like the best LCD tracks — into something like pure magic by the end, with an appropriately strong build up that sticks with you for long after the record stops. 

Overall, this album is one of LCD Soundsystem’s best. It’s consistent in tone and production throughout, has a clear point of view, and doesn’t fail to deliver on dance-able songs that reveal their true nature only after several listens. I say in no unclear terms; this album is a masterpiece.

Standout tracks: all of them except for “emotional haircut,” which is still fine.

Britton Rozzelle is the Executive Editor for The Spectator. He can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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